NBA History Was Made This Preseason, and Most People Didn’t Even Realize It Was Happening

The 2021-22 season is going to prove to be one of the NBA’s greatest, as it is the 75th anniversary of the NBA’s existence. There are multiple marquee matchups this year, as well as fabulous rookies and superstars, waiting to shine and attempt to capture a title. We’ve had our first glimpse at some of these stars during the NBA preseason, and seen some players and teams that look amazing (the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat) and some players/teams that make us scratch our heads (the Los Angeles Lakers). However, on a seemingly normal day of preseason games, something crazy happened that I don’t think has been talked about nearly enough.

Credit to The Charlotte Observer for Picture

On Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, you had the Magic edging the Celtics by one point, the Suns absolutely demolishing the Trail Blazers (yes, Damian Lillard was playing), the Pacers barely beating the Grizzlies, and a few other games. However, one game stood out above the rest, and that was the Dallas Mavericks against the Charlotte Hornets. In theory, this should have been a well-matched game. Charlotte has one of the best young cores in the NBA, with Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball, lob partner Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Terry Rozier, rookie James Bouknight, Kelly Oubre, Jr, Gordon Hayward, and Mason Plumlee. The Mavericks had Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. Doncic is amazing, but the Hornets have the better overall roster. However, you wouldn’t have known it based on the way they played.

Credit to Jared C. Tilton of Getty Images for Picture

The Hornets won the opening tip, but Porzingis would score the first basket of the night, a three-pointer off a long rebound. Soon after, Doncic threw a no-look pass, and while the three didn’t go in, the Hornets didn’t box out properly and the Mavericks got some second-chance points, making the score 5-0. The Hornets would fail to score on the other end, and as the Mavericks came down the floor, Hardaway, Jr, nailed another three, making the score 8-0. The Hornets would score, but the Mavericks would score right back, keeping their eight-point lead. Ball would score on a mid-range jumper, but unfortunately, it was one of two shots that he would make that night. Yes, Ball took 10 shots that night and only made two of them.

Throughout the first quarter, the Hornets did their best to keep the game competitive, but Hardaway, Jr, just kept knocking down threes, as he would finish the game with 20 points. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 24-17 in Dallas’ favor, and then the bloodbath really began. The Mavericks would hit a three, followed by a coast-to-coast layup, which was followed by a timeout by the Hornets, a block on Hornets center Mason Plumlee, and one of the craziest posters during the preseason from Josh Green, which you can see here:

Credit to ESPN for Picture

From there, the Hornets botched another play and Porzingis threw down a slam dunk. Then the Mavericks scored again. And then they drained another three. The Hornets called another timeout. The Mavericks made another three. At this point, the score of the game is 39-17.

Are you sensing a recurring pattern here?

The Mavericks continued to demoralize the Hornets by throwing down dunks and seemingly making all of their shots, while the Hornets can’t get any offense going. At halftime, the score was 61-30. At what point would this stop? Would Head Coach James Borrego give the pep talk of the century and inspire his team to rally for the city of Charlotte? Would Miles Bridges catch a lob from Ball, prompting announcer Eric Collins to shout way too loudly, “MILEEEESS BRIDGESSSS! MY MIND IS BLOWN!” Would the Hornets defend their home court and win the game?

No, they would not. The Hornets would score 11 points in the third quarter; I’ve scored more then that in a single quarter. Klay Thompson would agree with me, as he scored 37 points in a quarter, which is an NBA record and more then the Hornets scored in the whole first half.

Thompson wasn’t the only one who has NBA history with him, as when the final buzzer sounded, the Hornets had lost by 68 points, with a final score of 127-59! Doncic, the generational talent, only had 10 points and 8 assists, while Porzingis had 17 points and 9 rebounds! These are solid stat lines, but Doncic is known for putting up 30 point triple-doubles, so imagine how badly the Hornets would have lost if he did that. The 68-point blowout tied an NBA record for the worst loss in history (or more optimistically, the biggest margin of victory in NBA history). In a home game against the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers won 148-80 in 1991, which is the NBA record. Teams have gotten close since then, such as when the Pacers beat the Thunder by 57 points (the largest road win) in 2021, and the Boston Celtics beating the Chicago Bulls by 67 points in 2018. Whatever the case, Hornets fans are desperately hoping this was a fluke. The Mavericks are in a very competitive Western Conference, fighting for the highest seed, and the Hornets are one of the most fun young teams to watch; well, most of the time. Eric Collins will lose it if he has to put up with this for a year.

The worst part? Jason Kidd, the Mavericks’ Head Coach, has said that he wants the team to shoot less threes, and that night, they attempted 46 threes. This is a lot, but in terms of their entire preseason, the Mavericks are dead last in three pointers attempted in the league. With luck, this trend won’t continue into the regular season.

Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, let’s hope that kids under 10 weren’t watching this bloodbath on TV, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

5 of the Best Advertisements featuring NBA Players

Throughout the history of the NBA, there have been a lot of advertising campaigns, both to promote the NBA and other brands. While some are iconic and will live on in NBA immortality forever (Be Like Mike), others rose to popularity simply because of how funny they were, or how people had never seen anything like them. Today, we’re looking at five of the funniest ads corporations have ever produced that feature NBA players.

 

#5: Lil Penny

If you were a fan of the Orlando Magic in the early to mid 1990s, you knew who Lil Penny was. Anfernee Hardaway, better known as Penny Hardaway, was one of the faces of the Orlando Magic, and Shaquille O’Neal‘s star teammate. Together the team would go on to reach the 1995 NBA Finals, and they would both become stars off the court as well. While Shaq acted in many movies, Hardaway’s claim to fame was Lil Penny, a trash talking puppet who was beloved by all. Lil Penny was in many commercials besides the video above, and I highly suggest checking them out on YouTube (and buying a pair of Air Pennys). Unfortunately, Lil Penny had a tragic fall, as in a commercial, O’Neal knocked Lil Penny off a couch, in part to show his distaste for Hardaway being considered his equal and no longer his sidekick. Hardaway was so mad about what O’Neal did on TV that he didn’t talk to him for a week. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that soon after O’Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

#4: The Magic vs Larry Commercial

This 1986 commercial was short and sweet, but perfectly marketed two Converse shoes, the Bird shoe and the Magic shoe. The commercial opens up with a car driving past a corn field (the man who owned the corn field got paid a few thousand dollars for his field to be in the commercial), and then the car lowers the window. Bird stands nearby the car, a scowl on his face. Magic rolls down the window, and proceeds to tell Bird that while Converse made him a shoe for winning last year’s MVP award, he has a shoe for “this year’s MVP!” The commercial would end with the announcer saying, “The Bird Shoe. The Magic shoe. Choose your weapon. From converse.” This ad was short and sweet, although inaccurate, because in 1986, Bird would win MVP once again (his third in a row and last of his career) and win the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon. This ad is also where Bird and Magic first became friends, and actually got to know one another. So, it’s iconic for more than one reason.

#3: The Insane Horse Game

In this McDonalds commercial, Michael Jordan comes into a gym, where Larry Bird is practicing, with a bag of McDonalds, containing a Big Mac and fries. Bird is immediately drawn to it, and offers to play Jordan in a game of horse for it. Jordan, being the man who can never reject a challenge or chance to gamble, accepts, and their shots become more and more outlandish, until they are standing on top of a multi-story building and still throwing the ball through an open window and into the hoop. While looking back, it’s a little bit corny, but it’s still iconic and will be one of the funniest commercials from the 1990s.

#2: Jingle Hoops

Jingle Hoops was one of the funniest ads the NBA has come out with. This ad was made to promote special NBA Christmas jerseys in 2013, and featured MVPs Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Steve Nash, and LeBron James. The first five players proceed to make three after three, and since each of the nets on five hoops have bells, they are able to play the song Jingle Bells by making a ridiculous amount of threes (77 total points). James capped off the commercial by catching an alley-oop and throwing down the last note with an exclamation point, followed by him saying, “Please tell me the camera was on.” Chances are when he said this he wasn’t trying to troll the FlightReacts as he did in 2020, because in November of 2013, FlightReacts YouTube channel was five months old.

One year ago, a fan made a parody of Jingle Hoops by taking some of the worst three point shooters in the NBA (at the time) and having them jingle the bells by missing every shot they took.

#1: NBA Lane

NBA Lane is a promotional event for the 75th anniversary of the NBA. Throughout that time, there have been dozens of superstars, and lots of them are featured in this promotion. It feels like everything and every player that should be in here is there, with the exception of Michael Jordan. You have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar teaching his skyhook, Dwyane Wade showing whose house it is, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as neighbors, Zion Williamson breaking a rim, Zach LaVine throwing down a windmill dunk, Gary Payton stopping a bus with his bare hands, players such as Trae Young, Manu Ginobli, Dirk Nowitzki, Donovan Mitchell, Bill Walton, Oscar Robertson, Chris Paul, Dikembe Mutombo, Julius Erving, Grant Hill, Patrick Ewing, Ray Allen, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum, Jerry West, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Isiah Thomas, Carmelo Anthony, LaMelo Ball covering the Bulls’ mascot’s eyes while playing a video game, and much, much more (Lil Penny even makes a cameo!) This is truly a trip down memory lane, and it’s no surprise to me that it’s accumulated over half a million views in two days time. This perfectly encompasses the NBA, and I loved watching every second of it. It got me very excited for this season, and I can’t wait until October 19th, when the 75th season will officially kick off.

Which of these ads was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

What Makes a Player Injury Prone?

Injuries are one of the worst things that can happen to an NBA player. They derail careers, set back seasons, and can decide championships. No one wants them, and everyone feels bad for the players that have them. However, injuries have become even more apparent in today’s modern NBA. Excluding the 2020-2021 season, which was condensed and really increased player’s chances of injuries, almost every star player has had some bad injuries in their career.

Credit to Tannen Maury of the European Pressphoto Agency for Picture

Before LeBron James had his ankle sprain against the Atlanta Hawks this year, he had a groin injury in 2019 during his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kawhi Leonard spent the whole 2018 season rehabbing an injury caused during the 2017 NBA playoffs by Zaza Pachulia. Steph Curry had ankle issues for his first few seasons in the league, Klay Thompson hasn’t seen the court for two years, and the same just about goes for John Wall. Kevin Durant tore his achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals, Joel Embiid didn’t play in an NBA game until his third season, as he spent the first two rehabbing a foot that he broke; and then broke again. Derrick Rose had an injury that ended his career as an MVP back in 2012, and Paul George… well, let’s just not talk about that one.

Anyway, you see the point. Even before the condensed season, star players were getting injured faster and more often than ever, and it was very sad to see. In the 1960s, when players were treated like garbage and had to play ridiculous back to backs and didn’t have full time trainers, they still somehow managed to get injured less than players today do (of course, this could just be recency bias on my part). So how is it that with modern technology, professional full-time trainers, and training programs, players are still so often getting injured? What makes players injury prone? That’s what we’re going to find out today.

Credit to CBS Sports for Picture

The first thing to look out for is a fluke injury. Often, a player that has a fluke injury has to spend a lot of time recovering, and because they were injured, it makes them more likely for injury again. According to PT Solutions, you are more likely to re-sprain your ankle if you have already sprained it in the past. The article also goes on to say, “Ankle sprains not cared for properly after injury may go on to cause reoccurring complications for life.” The same goes for all sorts of other injuries. A few players that had the potential to be all-time greats will have their legacy suffer, because after one brutal injury, many other minor (or in some cases major) injuries followed. Some examples are Rose, George, and Dwight Howard.

Credit to Rob Schumacher of AP Images for Picture

The players that are most likely to get injured are guards and centers, so forwards get a lucky pass. Why is this, you may ask? Basketball is a game of giants (at least for most people), and guards are generally the smallest people on the court, ranging anywhere from 6’5″ (a very tall guard) all the way down to Muggsy Bogues at 5’3″. Smaller players are likely to get banged around a lot more, and when explosive guards drive to the rim, more often than not they are met with contact. It is this contact that causes so many injuries, including Rose’s, Curry’s broken arm, Lamelo Ball’s broken arm, Shaun Livingston‘s horrendous injury, Gordon Hayward‘s broken leg, and so on.

Centers are at an increased chance of injury because of how large they are. An undersized center like Wes Unseld is 6’9″, whereas the tallest can reach up to 7’7″, where the likes of Manute Bol, Gheorghe Mureșan, and Shawn Bradley tower over their opponents. Because centers are so large, their hearts have to work so much harder than average-sized people to get blood to their various body parts. Because of this strain on the heart, it lowers the amount of years the heart can keep it up, and as a result, players end up with heart issues or other injuries. Bol died at the age of 47 from acute kidney failure, Wilt Chamberlain died at 63 from congestive heart failure, Jason Collier died at 28 from a heart condition, and Yinka Dare died at 31 from a heart attack. This problem will only worsen as the NBA becomes faster and an even bigger emphasis is placed on shooting threes. Players are racing from one end of the court to the other every 24 seconds, and if big guys are not in shape, their bodies will take a huge toll.

Credit to Streeter Lecka of Getty Images for Picture of Zion Williamson

Not taking care of your body is an easy place to start a reputation as injury prone. When you’re younger, you can get away with not taking as good care of your body, but when you’re older, it starts to catch up to you. You can lie to others, but you can’t lie to your body, and if you’re doing something wrong (whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or simply living an unhealthy life), it’ll show on the court. There’s a reason the average NBA career is only four and a half years long.

Credit to The Athletic for Picture

The last thing that can cause injuries for a select few amount of players is working too much, or playing too much basketball. We’re all human, and human bodies need recovery time. When a player pushes their body to the max, it often comes back to bite them during the later years of their career. An example of this is Jerry West. As a kid and an NBA player, he would shoot hundreds of shots per day, and it paid off. However, towards the end of his career, West became a very injury prone player, and it forced him into retirement a little earlier than he wanted. West broke his nose at least NINE times, as well as breaking both his hands twice. West also suffered from twisted and sprained fingers, wrists, ankles and knees, pulled and torn muscles, and suffered many bruises, according to the New York Times.

Another example of this is Larry Bird. Bird was almost always the hardest worker on the floor, and like West, he practiced his jump shot hundreds and hundreds of times a day. However, most of Bird’s gruesome injuries could have been avoided (if you want to learn more about Bird’s injuries, I suggest reading this article) if he hadn’t done unnecessary work. Bird believed in doing work around the home by himself, and in 1985, he shoveled gravel to make a basketball court for himself to practice. Unfortunately, he would tweak his back while doing so, and that one small injury would lead to many, many others down the line, forcing him to retire in 1992. In his last season, he only appeared in 45 games, in 1991 he would only appear in 60 games, and in 1989 he only played six games due to injury. Despite the injuries, I will always respect Bird for doing what he believes in and not letting someone else do the work he could for him… even if it cost him a few seasons in the NBA.

The last example is Kobe Bryant. As we know, Bryant had the greatest work ethic in the history of basketball, so it’s no surprise that taking hundreds of jump shots and absorbing contact while driving to the rim eventually took it’s toll. When Bryant had that Achilles injury in 2013, it was the beginning of the end, as he had been playing practically every minute of every game that season. From there, Bryant never fully recovered, and had multiple nagging injuries afterwards. A combination of not getting enough rest and grinding himself into the ground was why an older Bryant had trouble staying on the court; although a lot of the blame can fall on his coach, Mike D’Antoni, for playing the older Bryant so many minutes.

So, what’s the key to longevity? Let’s look at some of the players who played the longest in the NBA, and why they could play for so long.

Robert Parish is the NBA’s current leader in games played, appearing in a total of 1,611 NBA games. Parish’s career was practically built for longevity, as when he was in middle school, he rarely ever played. Because of how bad he was early on and how he was a late bloomer, ridiculous expectations were not placed on Parish as soon as he entered college and the NBA. As a backup center for the Golden State Warriors, Parish played in almost every game for four seasons but didn’t play a ridiculous amount of minutes. When he was shipped to Boston along with Kevin McHale, Parish found the perfect role of 3rd option, behind McHale and Bird. Because Bird and McHale handled most of the scoring, Parish could still score nearly 20 points while not having to deal with the crushing double-teams that Bird was faced with (often, Parish would become open off of these double-teams) and while he played in the post, his style was not a bruising style like that of the Detroit Pistons. The Chief was always in shape, and even after he left the Celtics and eventually the Hornets, he played on the Bulls, where Michael Jordan was busy with the spotlight. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman were next up, so Parish could play 43 games for them and win a championship before retiring on a bright spot.

Although Lebron James‘ health has started to deteriorate in recent years, he still has amazing longevity. James spends over $1 million on his body every year, and spends hours a day doing PT, massages, and at least 30 minutes of stretching. James also takes hot and ice baths, as well as icing his knees every day; he’s been doing that since 7th grade. With all this, it’s no wonder why James has had such a long career, and is the only player left in the 2003 NBA Draft class that is still playing to this day.

Vince Carter in particular got lucky with his NBA career. Carter played shooting guard and small forward for most of his career (in Atlanta for his last two seasons he played power forward), so he was not in the kind of role that gave him a higher chance to be injured. Carter also never had any season ending injuries, which helped him a lot. There were small nagging injuries in the early 2000s, but nothing that halted or shortened his career like it did for his cousin Tracy McGrady. With a little bit of luck and a 6’6″ body, Carter was able to play for 22 years in the NBA, the most ever in a career.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, much like Parish, did not have a bully-ball approach to the game, and his sky hook did not take a toll on his body the way Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley had when they were posting up their opponents. Abdul-Jabbar was able to play in 20 NBA seasons, and because of how he played the game, he never appeared in less than 74 games in an NBA regular season. The thing that Abdul-Jabbar was associated with in terms of injuries were migraines, which are painful, but do not take weeks to recover from. An approach to playing the game that didn’t physically destroy him, no major career altering injuries, and playing with other superstars like Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, and James Worthy to help take the pressure off led to the longevity of Abdul-Jabbar, who can make the case for the second or third greatest player of all time.

In conclusion, the key to a long NBA career is to find the perfect situation, not play too bruising a play style, and do everything you can to help your body keep up for longer, such as stretching, icing, and physical therapy. Hopefully this has helped explain what makes players more likely to become injury prone. Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

10 More Things You May Not Have Known About The NBA and It’s Players

A while ago, I wrote 10 Things You May Not Have Known About the NBA or it’s Players, and it seemed as though most people enjoyed it. So today, I’m creating a Part Two to that list, and hopefully you will learn some new interesting facts about the NBA.

 

#10: Pau Gasol‘s Schooling

Credit to Jesse D. Garrabrant of Getty Images for Picture

Before becoming an NBA All-Star and playing alongside NBA greats such as Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Ron Artest, and many more, Gasol, it seemed, was destined to become a doctor. Gasol loved basketball from a young age, but when he was 11 years old, Magic Johnson announced his retirement from basketball due to contracting HIV. Gasol (bless his heart) decided that he would become a doctor and find a cure for aids. This was no idle dream, as Gasol would enroll at the University of Barcelona’s medical school to become a doctor. However, much like Dikembe Mutombo, Gasol’s basketball career took off and soon he found himself playing in the NBA. Imagine how Magic and Gasol’s first ever conversation went, and if Gasol isn’t one of your favorite basketball players, he should be.

#9: Manute Bol‘s Blocks

Credit to Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images for Picture

Manute Bol is one of the best shot blockers in the history of the NBA. Standing at 7’7″, Bol could block shots with ease, and finished his career with a 3.3 block per game average. In every season except for 1993 where Bol played over 50 games, he averaged more blocked shots per game than points per game. While Elmore Smith still holds the record for most blocked shots in a game (17), Bol holds the single game rookie record for blocks in a game with 15, and recorded 15 blocks in another game one year later, tying the NBA record for eight blocks in the 4th quarter. However, while 15 is the official record for the most shots Bol blocked in a game, there is a game that may have happened which is so astonishing, it’s on the level of Wilt Chamberlain’s quintuple-double game.

When Bol came to America to play college basketball, the NCAA questioned his eligibility because of some medical records and dates of birth that could not be provided. Because he could not play Division One Basketball, Bol played Division Two ball at the University of Bridgeport. While statistics from different games are difficult to track down, we do know that Bol averaged around 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game in college before being drafted in the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. However, his best ever game played at Bridgeport was a 32-point-29 rebound-31 block performance! 31 blocks! While there is no way to track this down and see if it did truly happen, I believe that it could have, because of how skilled Bol was and how any NBA player would have feasted on Division Two talent.

#8: A Canceled Dunk Contest?

Credit to Andrew D. Bernstein of Getty Images for Picture

In 1997, the NBA might have had its worst ever Slam Dunk contest in modern history. The one highlight of the horrible event was Kobe Bryant winning the contest with his between the legs “Eastbay” dunk. Because ratings dropped so low, the contest was canceled the next year due to a lack of fan interest! Yes, 1998 and 1999 didn’t have a dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend! Luckily, the NBA would bring the event back in 2000, where Vince Carter would completely revive the event with his jaw-dropping performance. Ever since, the dunk contest has not left All-Star Weekend. It makes you wonder: If Vince Carter saved the Dunk Contest, then is he the greatest dunker ever?

#7: Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum‘s Friendship

Credit to Madison Quisenberry of Getty Images for Picture

Many NBA players have grown up together and played with one another, as I wrote about in a separate article. However, it isn’t often that one future NBA player has another future NBA player to look up to like an older brother. While younger players have their inspirations and idols to model their game after, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics had an older brother figure early in his childhood… and that was Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.

As Beal was finishing a high school basketball career at Chaminade Prep and getting ready to attend the University of Florida, Jayson Tatum was an 8th grader trying to make the Chaminade Prep team the following year. Beal is also the reason why Tatum trains with Drew Hanlen, who started out as Beal’s personal trainer but soon evolved into one of the most respected NBA trainers in the modern era. However, even before they became basketball superstars, the two were so close that Beal babysat Tatum!

#6: Yinka Dare‘s Trouble With Assists

Credit to Rocky Widner of Getty Images for Picture

Yinka Dare was drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. Unfortunately, he would only play one game his rookie season due to injury. However, in the second season that followed, Dare found it difficult to get credit for an assist, in part because he was a 7’0″ center before modern shooters existed and in part because the New Jersey Nets were so terrible and the offense didn’t flow around him. Dare went 58 games without a single assist, and if you look at his Basketball-Reference page, you’ll see that he averaged 0.0 assists per game, which is crazy to think about.

#5: The San Antonio Spurs Crazy Winning

Credit to Kin Man Hui of San Antonio Express-News for Picture

The San Antonio Spurs are definitively winners in everyone’s book. While the current 2021 Spurs have a lot to improve on, they have had some all-time great players on their roster, such as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Bruce Bowen, Boris Diaw, Kawhi Leonard, David Robinson, and so many more. Because of how the San Antonio dynasty played out and how they kept winning for nearly two decades, the Spurs have a winning record against every NBA team. Every single one. This does not include teams before the ABA merger, such as the Virginia Squires and Kentucky Colonels. While they may not stay this way for long, it is a crazy accomplishment. You can click here to see the proof for yourself.

#4: The crazy amount of time Kareem Abdul-Jabaar spent playing basketball

Credit to NBA.com for Picture

The current NBA record for most minutes played in a career is held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, which should not be surprising to anyone who knows that he played in the NBA for 20 seasons and holds the record for most points ever in a career, with 38,387. However, Abdul-Jabbar also holds the record for most minutes played in an NBA career, with 57,446 minutes logged. If we convert this to hours, this equals around 957 hours, and if we convert this to days, then we find that Abdul-Jabbar played the equivalent of 40 straight days of NBA basketball! Now that is longevity.

#3: How Robert Parish picked his number

Credit to NBA.com for Picture

Robert Parish is known for wearing the number 00 throughout his entire career, including while on the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, and Chicago Bulls (with Michael Jordan towards the end of his career). However, the reason he wears 00 stems all the way back to junior high school. Back in middle school, Parish didn’t care that much about basketball, and skipped it whenever he could. Because of this, Parish was by far the worst player on the team. When the team got their jerseys for the upcoming season, Parish got 00 because it was the last number available.

“My junior high school team gave out jersey numbers to the player [based on] the scale of talent. The best players got their jerseys first. And then, the players that wasn’t as good as the starting five, that’s who got the remaining jerseys. And being that I was the worst player on the team at the time, 00 was the last jersey. So that’s how I got the number 00… and the number just stuck with me.”

Robert Parish on the “In the Post with Elvin Hayes” podcast

However, after embracing the number and putting in the work, Parish would become a star, which led to future NBA Stars wearing 0 and 00 as well, such as Gilbert Arenas, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum, Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, and many, many more.

#2: Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers‘ Trades

Credit to Jack Dempsey of the Associated Press for Picture

It seems as though we hear about players getting traded all the time, and during the offseason, it’s almost a nightly occurrence. However, one thing that we don’t hear much about is a little-known rule in the NBA: You can trade coaches, it just has to be for cash and/or draft picks, not players. There have only been two coaches traded in NBA history, and those two coaches are Stan Van Gundy and Doc Rivers. The first coach to be traded was Van Gundy, and that happened in 2005. After the 2005 playoffs, Pat Riley, who was then an executive for the Miami Heat, decided he wanted to coach the team. The problem was, Van Gundy was already the coach of the Heat. So, after some arguments, Van Gundy agreed to coach the Orlando Magic, despite the fact he was still under contract by the Miami Heat. However, Miami would solve this problem by letting Van Gundy coach Orlando in exchange for two second-round picks. This would work out, as ultimately the Heat would win their first championship the next year, and the Magic would make a finals appearance in 2009.

The second (and only other occurrence so far) of a coach getting traded came in 2013, with Doc Rivers. It was clear that the Celtics’ glory days were past, and Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were well past their primes. At this point, Ray Allen was on the Miami Heat, and Danny Ainge, the Celtics President of Basketball Operations, decided it was time to rebuild. In addition to trading the Hall-of-Famers to the Nets for tons of draft capital, Ainge also traded Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers, since Rivers wanted to coach for a team that was trying to win and have success in the playoffs. The 2015 first-round pick the Celtics acquired in exchange for Rivers became R.J. Hunter, who didn’t turn into anything special. However, the Celtics would acquire Brad Stevens as their new head coach, so it worked out just fine for them.

#1: Gilbert Arenas used a coin flip to decide his free agency

Credit to Celebrity Net Worth for Picture

After Gilbert Arenas emerged as a star for the Golden State Warriors, becoming an All-Star and winning the Most Improved Player award, he became highly sought after in NBA free agency. In 2003, Arenas decided that he was either going to sign with the Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Clippers, but because he loved both franchises so much, he was torn and couldn’t choose. It is said that Arenas flipped a coin ten times to choose with franchise to sign with, and when Los Angeles came up eight times out of ten, he decided to go against the odds and sign with the Wizards.

 

Which of these facts did you find the craziest? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

What They Don’t Want You to Know about Tacko Fall

So far in his basketball career, Tacko Fall has not done much in the NBA. While he has been a G-League Sensation that cannot be stopped, Fall has shown the same promise while getting limited minutes after the game has been decided for the Boston Celtics, but simply doesn’t receive that many chances to show his worth. One has to wonder if the organization is simply saving Fall for when he is in his prime or when centers Luke Kornet and Tristan Thompson leave the team. Whatever the case, Fall is a much better player than the Celtics (and the NBA) let on.

On one of the rare chances Fall received playing time, he was able to block four shots in the span of a minute. This is legendary, as if he continued at this rate for even half of a game, he would easily set the record for the most blocked shots in a game (the unofficial record is 26 by Wilt Chamberlain). While blocks and rebounds are where Fall gets attention, he has the ability to score many points off of offensive rebounds and easy put-backs. Fall also recently made a sweet Hakeem Olajuwon-esque fadeaway in game which got the whole Celtics bench oohing and aahing.

After graduating from the University of Central Florida (and narrowly losing to Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils in the NCAA tournament), Fall went undrafted, though the Celtics took a chance on him and signed him, sending him to their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

In the 2019-20 season, Fall played 29 games (11 started) for the Red Claws. In those 29 games, Fall averaged 12.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game in about 23 minutes of action. It’s safe to say that these are great numbers for a center, and warrant at least 10 minutes a game of action in the NBA.

On March 8th, 2020, Fall nearly recorded a triple-double (for the Red Claws) with a stat-line of 16 points, 14 rebounds, and nine blocks! In that game, he looked like a man among boys, doing whatever he wanted with ease. However, despite these incredible stats, there are still a few unknown stats that have the potential to shock you.

During the 2020-21 regular NBA season, Fall has appeared in 19 games, averaging about seven minutes played per game. In those games, Fall averaged 2.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. These aren’t that impressive on the surface, but these stats are even more impressive when it’s considered that Fall plays around seven minutes.

If we look at Fall’s Per 36 numbers, which show what a player would produce in 36 minutes played per game, then Fall is averaging 12.4 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 5.3 blocks! These are incredible numbers, and not just by Fall’s standards, but by all-time great center standards. It’s safe to say that if Fall had been born into a different era (let’s say the 1960s), then he may be looked at as the greatest center of all time.

Let’s look at arguably the greatest statistical center ever, Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain had few rivals in the 1960s because of how far ahead he was compared to his peers. His greatest statistical season was 1961-62, where he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds (leading the league in both). On March 2nd, 1962, Chamberlain would score 100 points, an NBA record to this day. However, one reason that Chamberlain scored this much was that he played every minute of every game during that season, bringing his average minutes per game to over 48 (due to overtime). During the game in which he scored 100 points, his teammates fouled on defense so that he could get the ball without killing the clock and break the previous record. The average basketball game has around 70 possessions, though it would be safe to say that this game had around 100 possessions.

If we take Fall’s numbers and see what they would amount to in 100 possessions, Fall would have averaged 16.9 points, 18.7 rebounds, and 7.2 blocks per game! The season before, when Fall was trying to prove he belonged on the floor even more since he was a rookie, he put up slightly higher numbers, so if we take his numbers from the 2019-20 season, we get per 100 possession numbers of 33.6 points, 21.9 rebounds, and 5.9 blocks per game! Fall would lead the league in blocks almost every season if he got even 36 minutes of playing time per game, and if the Celtics unleashed him truly, they would have one of the best defenses in the league and possibly a multiple time Defensive Player of the Year in their paint.

Credit to MLG Highlights YouTube Channel for Snapshot

There is no way to truly tell how many blocks Chamberlain acquired in his career, but luckily for us, a statistician ahead of his time recorded blocks for a fraction of the games in Chamberlain’s career, and in the games where those blocks were recorded, Chamberlain averaged 8.8 blocks per game! The link to the site where Chamberlain’s block statistics can be found here, and if we put Fall in the 1960s, I have no doubt that with the extra inches he could block even more shots and possibly grab as many rebounds.

Fall may not be as gifted or have the potential to be a better player than Chamberlain, or guys like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Bill Russell. However, if Fall gets the minutes and develops his game, he has the potential to be a top three Celtic center of all time (behind Russell and Dave Cowens), Defensive Player of the Year, All-Star, and maybe one day, if he leads his team to enough wins, an MVP.

What do you guys think of Fall’s stats when adjusted to more minutes per game? How great of a player do you think he can be? Let me know your thoughts, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog (it would mean a lot to me), and as always, have an awesome day!

Who Deserves the Rookie of the Year Award?

As many of the awards for this NBA season will soon be announced, there has been a lot of speculation about who deserves the Rookie of the Year (ROY) Award. The three finalists for the award are Lamelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton. All three have had incredible rookie seasons, though it’s safe to say that the winner comes down to Edwards and Ball due to the fact Haliburton is playing behind All-Star caliber Point Guard De’Aaron Fox. Picks #1 and #3 in the 2020 NBA Draft, they both have a chance to become future All-Stars in the league.

Some factors that should go into deciding the ROY Award are the impact that rookie makes on their team, statistics, how well they adjusted to the NBA, and how many games they played. This is why in 2012, Michael Carter-Williams won the ROY Award as he became the lone young star on the tanking Philadelphia 76ers, averaging 17, 6, and 6. So this year, who deserves the ROY? Lamelo Ball or Anthony Edwards?

Credit to ClutchPoints for Picture

Category 1: Impact

First, let’s look at the impact each of these players have had on their respective teams. Last season, shortened by COVID-19, the Hornets finished with a dismal 23-42 record, or a .354 winning percentage. The Timberwolves were even worse, sporting a 19-45 record, or a .297%. In the 2019-2020 season, the Hornets were the 10th seed and the Timberwolves were the 14th seed. So, how has that changed this year?

This year, the Hornets were once again the 10th seed, but if it wasn’t for a loss against Washington in their last regular season game, they would have been the eighth seed. The Hornets were a much improved 33-39, or a .458%. They made the play-in with the help of Lamelo Ball and the team’s young core, and they have a very bright future.

This year, the Timberwolves were the 13th seed, and their record improved slightly as well, from 19-45 to 23-49. Their seeding and wins went up in a shortened season, which is something, but at the same time, they haven’t slipped out of the lottery, and are contending for a top three pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

In Ball’s rookie season, the Hornets improved by 10 wins, while the Timberwolves improved by four wins. Category 1 goes to Ball.

Category 2: Statistics

For his rookie season, Ball averaged 15.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.6 steals on 43.6% shooting from the field, and 35% from three. These are great numbers that show an all-encompassing point guard who will have many triple-doubles in his future. Ball also has a PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 17.5, and averaged 2.8 win shares per game.

Edwards, on the other hand, averaged 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.1 steals on 41.7% shooting from the field. It’s understandable that Edwards scores more points and dishes out less assists, as he is a shooting guard, and is not expected to distribute the ball and facilitate the offense. On the other hand, Ball’s assists come from Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, and PJ Washington, while Edwards can pass to All-Stars D’Angelo Russell, Karl Anthony-Towns, and 20+ point per game scorer Malik Beasley. Edwards is also shooting 32.9% from three and 77.6% from the free throw line.

In every statistical category save for scoring, Ball beats out Edwards. This includes both player’s per 36 minutes and per 100 possession stats, which show how much a player would average in 36 minutes of playing time and 100 straight possessions on the court.

Ball (per 36 minutes): 19.7 points, 7.7 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 2.0 steals per game

Edwards (per 36 minutes): 21.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals per game

Ball (per 100 possessions): 26.7 points, 10.4 assists, 10.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals per game

Edwards (per 100 possessions): 28.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals per game

It’s safe to say that, statistically, Ball is the better rookie.

How They Adjusted to the NBA(and Injuries):

When it comes to debut games, Edwards had a better first game than Ball did. Edwards relies heavily on his athleticism, which didn’t take to long to adjust to the NBA. Edwards also desperately needed to succeed for a not so great Timberwolves franchise, so he got to start and received many more touches than Ball did1. He scored 15 points, adding in four rebounds and four assists in his first game. Ball, on the other hand, didn’t score at all in his first game. However, he also didn’t start at this time, as the Hornets have two other great, young point guards in Devonte Graham and Terry Rozier.

Ball would soon adjust to the NBA, as in his fourth ever game he would score 22 points. His first career triple-double would happen 10 games in, and we all got a glimpse at how great a one-two punch Ball and Miles Bridges would be.

Edwards continued to score in double figures, but never grabbed more than 10 rebounds or dished out 10 assists. Neither had a very difficult time adjusting, but it feels as though Ball has a higher basketball IQ than Edwards, and knows what to do in just about every situation once he gets the feel for it.

The one thing that holds back Ball’s case for ROY is his wrist injury. After falling awkwardly in a game, Ball was forced to miss 20 games, and if last year’s ROY race taught us anything, it’s that injuries to the best rookie can cause him to lose. Ball still played a large majority of the season, and in a condensed season, anything can happen.

It seems that if you look past Ball’s injury, the ROY argument isn’t that much of an argument. What do you think? Is Ball the ROY or is it Edwards? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

1: One could argue from this point, if Edwards was immediately starting and Ball had to wait, doesn’t that mean Edwards was better? No. Minnesota had no other blossoming shooting guards at the time, and the Hornets had three good point guards. If you’re still not convinced, look at the Timberwolves win total one more time and each player’s win shares.

LeBron James Violates Health and Safety Protocols

One of the newest endorsement deals LeBron James has is with Lobos 1707, a Tequila brand. Unfortunately, a brief outdoor photoshoot for the company which, included guests such as Drake and Michael Jordan (the actor), was not allowed per NBA rules, even though the company required vaccinations and negative COVID-19 tests to attend. According to an NBA spokesperson who talked to ESPN,

“It’s a violation of the agreed upon protocols, and, as we have in other comparable instances around the league, it has been addressed with the team.”

Credit to Mark J. Terrill for picture

Since James violated the league’s health and safety protocol rules, there could be a wide range of punishments, stemming from a formal warning at the lowest, to fines, and then suspensions. It’s that last part that could and should worry Lakers fans, as if James is forced to miss their first round series against the Phoenix Suns (as he could be out for up to 14 days), the Lakers don’t have a good chance at beating them. Combine this with his ankle and eye injuries, and things are not looking good for the Lakers, but great for the Suns. Chris Paul has been itching to win a championship, and now that Devin Booker has finally made the playoffs, he is ready to go off.

On the other hand, James is the league’s biggest star, and they have never handed him big punishments, even when he is deserving, to avoid tarnishing the league’s reputation. Chances are he will end up with a fine or formal warning for what he did, even though he broke the league rules during a global pandemic to promote alcohol. Are we sure we want him being a role model to millions? Can you imagine Steph Curry (in James’ words, this year’s MVP) ever doing such a thing?

James has not received the vaccine by his choice, according to teammate Dennis Schroder. Schroder also missed a week during the season because of these protocols, so if James doesn’t miss any time, it has nothing to do with what he did, but who he is. The question is, will the NBA do the right thing and suspend James? Or, will they let their biggest source of money get away with whatever he wants? Let’s hope they do the right thing.

Oh wait, the NBA just decided not to suspend James from any play (before I could finish writing this). In their words, James did not do anything wrong, as the photoshoot was quick and negative tests or vaccines were required. Given the context, it does make some sense that they would choose not to suspend him, so we may have to cut him a bit of slack here. However, he still violated NBA rules and protocol.

Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

My Play-In Predictions:

Before the NBA Playoffs can start, the mini-playoffs to determine the last two seeds, known as the play-in, must commence. If you don’t know, here are the rules of the play-in tournament:

  1. The 7 & 8 seeds will play each other in a sudden death matchup. Whoever wins this game receives the seventh seed.
  2. The 9 and 10 seeds will play each other in a sudden death matchup. Whoever wins plays the loser of the 7-8 seed game for the eighth seed; the loser of the 9-10 seed game is eliminated, and the loser of the 7-8 seed game and the 9-10 seed winner is eliminated.

So far, this is how the play-in tournament looks in each conference:

This is my opinion of who will win each of the various play-in games in each conference, and who will be sent packing. The play-in is bringing lots of excitement to the league, incentivizing teams not to tank, and has the chance to eliminate superstars and MVPs, causing some to say that they hate it (or the fact they could lose) and that whoever created the idea should be fired from their job (*Cough cough*). Whatever the case, let’s jump right in!

Note: This Blog Post is my opinion, and my opinion only

Eastern Conference:

7 vs 8: The Boston Celtics vs The Washington Wizards

In this battle for the number 7 seed, we have two teams that already have a playoff rivalry history. In 2017, both of these teams battled it out for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals, with John Wall’s three-pointer in Game 6 making it a seven-game series, but a fueled Isaiah Thomas, who would not stop pounding on the Wizards, took it to them, and the Celtics got to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. As well as looking for revenge, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum are good friends, grew up together, and went to the same high school, so you know they’re both going to want to beat each other.

John Wall drains the clutch go-ahead shot in Game 6 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals over defensive ace Avery Bradley. Credit to Bullets Forever for picture

Who I Think Will Win: The Washington Wizards

Right now, this isn’t even close. The Wizards capped off the regular season with a 17-6 run, a bench that is doing it all, a guy named Russell Westbrook who just averaged a triple-double for the fourth straight season, and Bradley Beal, who finished second in the league in points scored per game. Everyone is getting into their stride and has found their place. The Wizards are going to be difficult to beat in the play-in.

The Celtics, on the other hand, have lost one of their two All-Stars, Jaylen Brown, for the rest of the season. Since he’s a 20+ point per game scorer, this will significantly hurt their offense. Kemba Walker, their starting point guard, is day-to-day with his injuries, and Tatum didn’t play in the Celtics final game. If the big three in Boston don’t play, the Wizards will steamroll this team; if they (Tatum and Walker) do play, they’ll have to work a little more, but I still think the Wizards prevail. Home court advantage for the Celtics doesn’t do them a lot of favors in this situation, but certainly doesn’t hurt either.

9 vs 10: The Indiana Pacers vs The Charlotte Hornets

With both teams trying their hardest to win this game, I think this will be one of the most fun games to watch this season (The Wizards and Celtics have a cushion if they lose). Prone to hot starts, I predict the Hornets are going to start out going hot from three and scoot out to a double-digit lead. The question simply remains whether they blow it or not. Indiana also has the advantage of home court.

Who I Think Will Win: The Charlotte Hornets

Credit to Defector for the picture, and credit to Miles Bridges for such an amazing dunk over the league leader in blocks

Even though it’s an away game, I think Charlotte will prevail. The Pacers have many threats on their roster, such as Caris Levert, Domantas Sabonis, Malcom Brogdon (when healthy), Myles Turner, TJ Warren (prone to hot and cold stretches), and TJ McConnell (who has really come around lately). However, the three-headed monster of LaMelo Ball, Devonte Graham, and Terry Rozier may be too much, especially if Brogdon is out. The Pacers will easily dominate the paint, with Sabonis and Turner, but the Hornets have the advantage on the perimeter, and are a younger team. This will be a test for the Hornets, but if they can win, they have a good chance at gaining the 8th seed in the East.

Loser of 7/8 vs winner of 9/10: The Boston Celtics vs The Charlotte Hornets

The Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets have had some good matchups in the past, and Scary Terry always has a chip on his shoulder when playing against Boston (they traded him to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade deal for at the time All-Star Kemba Walker). This should be a very fun game to watch (assuming everyone is healthy). The real question: if Miles Bridges goes up for a dunk like above, will it go through the hoop or will Tacko Fall block it like he blocks everything else in the paint? There’s only one way to find out . . .

Who I think will win: The Charlotte Hornets

The Celtics are still not 100% healthy, and even if they were, my money would still be on Charlotte. Earlier this year, I watched a preview of this matchup, and the Hornets got off to one of their hot three-point shooting starts, acquired a double-digit lead, demoralized the Celtics, and easily won the game. Especially with the injuries to the Celtics, I am expecting something similar to play out. Of course, it’s sudden death, and as former Celtic and Hall-of-Fame player Kevin Garnett once said,

Western Conference:

7 vs 8: The Los Angeles Lakers and The Golden State Warriors

Ah, the equivalent of the Cleveland Cavaliers/Golden State Warriors rivalry; although now everything is different. The Lakers have no momentum, having a horrible second half of the season that landed them where they are now. Injuries have ruined this year for them, and while they still have a chance, there aren’t too many people betting on them to win the Finals.

Golden State, on the other hand, is mostly a one-man team. If you can lock up Steph Curry, then you lock up 25-50 points of the Warriors offense. The second and third options on the team for scoring are Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr, as Klay Thompson and James Wiseman are and have been injured. This series won’t be as exciting as it would if everyone were healthy, but whenever two MVPs square off, it’s must watch basketball, and this is by far the most anticipated game of the play-in.

Who I think will win… Depends on who is healthy and playing

If Anthony Davis is not playing, then I believe the Warriors will win this game. LeBron James most likely won’t be on Steph the whole game, and when it comes to Lakers point guards, few to none can guard Curry. James himself has said that he will probably never be 100% again, which the Warriors (and Draymond Green) have to capitalize on. On the other hand, if Anthony Davis is playing, the game becomes a lot less close and chances are the Lakers cruise to a victory. With Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis (not the Twin Towers, but the Twin ADs), the Lakers easily dominate the paint, but the outside belongs to the Warriors and Curry.

Since it’s one and done, this is going to be exciting to watch, as heroes arrive at the most likely and unlikely time (like Alex Caruso). All in all, this is going to be a great game, but assuming Davis is playing and at at least 90%, the Lakers will win.

9 vs 10: The Memphis Grizzlies and The San Antonio Spurs

Both Memphis and San Antonio are smaller markets, and this game will most likely draw the least attention and viewers of all the play-in games. However, Ja Morant always brings excitement wherever he plays, and the young Grizzlies are a fun team to watch.

Credit to the Beale Street Bears for picture

Who I think will win: The Memphis Grizzlies

Both teams may not be great, but this isn’t even close. The San Antonio Spurs have Demar DeRozan out of his prime as their best player, and while Greg Poppovich is an incredible coach, there’s only so much he can do without good players alongside him. The Spurs second option is Dejounte Murray, but they have no real threat at center or power forward (since LaMarcus Aldridge left the team), meaning Jaren Jackson, Jr and Jonas Valuncienas are free to wreak havoc inside. The Spurs team lacks a good supporting cast for DeRozan as well as motivation; even if they did get the eighth seed, they would immediately lose to the Jazz in the first round. The Grizzlies will move on to the second round of the play-in, and the San Antonio Spurs will go home and hope they can make some trades, free agency signings, or get lucky in the lottery.

Loser of 7/8 vs winner of 9/10: Golden State Warriors vs Memphis Grizzlies

Yet another highly anticipated matchup with a duel of incredible point guards, both with decent supporting casts. Both teams have gritty power forwards in Jaren Jackson, Jr and Draymond Green, and can step up to any challenge.

Who I think will win: The Golden State Warriors

The Warriors supporting cast is slightly deeper than the Grizzlies, and aside from that, the Grizzlies are led by mostly young players without too much experience (with the exception of Jonas Valuncienas). Curry and Green have valuable experience others don’t, and something tells me this opportunity is too good for them to let slip away. Imagine the Warriors beating the number one seed in the first round for the second time in 20 years (they did so to the Dallas Mavericks before Curry was drafted).

What predictions did you agree with and not agree with? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog (it would mean a lot to me), and as always, have an awesome day!

Five Stars That Will DOMINATE The 2020s

As one chapter of basketball history is closed, another one opens and begins to write it’s own story. The 2010s were historic in their own right with some crazy free agency signings (LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Kevin Durant), some mythical runs (Derrick Rose and Jeremy Lin), some champions (The Splash Brothers, Kawhi Leonard, Dirk Nowitzki), and some all-time legend careers come to a close (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan). However, with a crazy amount of young talent in the NBA, the 2020s seem to be in good hands. Today, I’m discussing five stars that will dominate the 2020s. Let’s jump right in.

#5: Lamelo Ball

While his brother (Lonzo Ball) has failed to live up to the hype and expectations placed on him when he first entered the league, Lamelo Ball has had no such problem adjusting to the NBA. In fact, Lamelo claimed that he could have played in the NBA as a 14 YEAR OLD (seriously)! Don’t get me wrong, Lamelo is an amazing player, but I think he may be just a little delusional there.

Averaging 16, 6, and 6 on good shooting numbers, Ball has made an impact on the Charlotte Hornets that no other lottery pick for the team the past decade has done. While Kemba Walker struggled for years to get the job done and had to endure a lack of help from other teammates (including a 7-win season), Ball has propelled the Hornets to what would normally be the 8th seed in the playoffs, but is now the play-in. The addition of Terry Rozier helped a lot, and so did the development of Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham, but Ball averaged 2.8 win shares per game (a statistic that shows how much you help your team win), which for a rookie, whose team was previously at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, isn’t bad.

#4: Jayson Tatum

Credit to CBS for Picture

Jayson Tatum is an NBA superstar, and at this point in time, that is a fact. He is now the number one option on the Boston Celtics, although the team hasn’t been successful this year, in part due to injuries and in part COVID-19 protocol and restrictions. While this postseason in all likelihood won’t be that successful (if they make it through the play-in, their first-round matchup consists of the Philadelphia 76ers or the Brooklyn Nets), Tatum and Jaylen Brown have established themselves, as Tatum is averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists on 45.9% shooting (and was named an NBA All-Star starter when Kevin Durant was injured), while Brown is averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 48.4% shooting (while also being named a 2021 NBA All-Star). While there are tensions and kinks in the knot that need to be worked out before this team can really succeed, Celtic Nation ought to have another couple of banners before the decade is over.

#3: Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has been a monster this season. In just his second season, with minutes restrictions flung out the window, we have seen just how truly amazing Williamson is. A first time All-Star this season, Williamson is averaging 27.0 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game on 61.1% shooting, which is incredible! The Pelicans aren’t in the playoff or even play-in picture, but that is hardly Zion’s fault; the team acquired a lot of assets and are still getting used to playing with one another. When teammates Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram reach their primes, they could be one of the few teams in the league with three All-Stars, and they will then certainly make headlines. While I doubt they will win a championship in the next year or two, they could win later down the line in the 2020s, and if Williamson doesn’t pick up at least one MVP, I will be shocked.

#2: Donovan Mitchell

Credit to Jesse D. Garrabrant of Getty Images

Coming into this year, everyone knew Mitchell would be great. An All-Star in 2020, Mitchell has never averaged less then 20 points per game in his career, and should have won Rookie of the Year in 2018. His numbers have steadily risen in every statistical category, and the Utah Jazz just gelled together this year, as the three-headed monster of Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and Mike Conley stormed through the Western Conference (which was at its best in years) and grabbed the number one seed in this year’s playoffs. However, what solidified Mitchell as a true superstar and threat to NBA legends was when Kevin Durant was so salty that the Jazz were first in the West that he picked Mitchell last in the All-Star game draft (Rudy Gobert, Mitchell’s fellow All-Star, was also taken last, by captain LeBron James). I believe the Jazz will win at least one championship in the coming decade (who knows, it may be this year), and that Mitchell will be a first ballet Hall-of-Famer when it’s all said and done.

Video made by Golden Hoops

#1: Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic is by far the best young talent in the NBA. The only reason Doncic isn’t more highly recognized is because that he has disappointed in the playoffs, something that has less to do with his play and more with Kristaps Porzingis’ injuries. Whatever the case, Doncic has already shown MVP potential, averaging 28, 9, and 8 this season. He was named to the 1st Team All-NBA last year, which no other player on this list has done. He is a two-time All-Star, and once guys like Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, and Greg Poppovich retire, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win multiple MVPs and championships. It’s very safe to say that Doncic is the future of the league.

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Russell Westbrook Breaks All-Time Triple-Double Record

On May 10th, 2021, Russell Westbrook did something that we all knew was eventually going to happen: he broke the All-Time Triple-Double Record formerly held by Oscar Robertson. Robertson amassed 181 triple-doubles in his career, and against the Hawks, Westbrook had a stat line of 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 21 assists in securing his 182nd triple-double. If he retired after this season, chances are no one would be able to break this new record. However, he is still going strong, and by the time his career is over, chances are he will have amassed over 200 triple-doubles and have one of the most unbreakable records in NBA History.

Unfortunately for the Wizards, Bradley Beal would not play in Westbrook’s 182nd triple-double game, and Westbrook would miss a jumper at the buzzer that would have given the Wizards the win. The final score was 125-124, and while Beal was out for the rematch, he will return to rival Steph Curry for the scoring title.

Credit to SkySports for Picture

At this point, the only thing that keeps Westbrook from being debated as one of the greatest point guards of all time is the fact that he has not won a championship. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for four straight seasons! The first time he did it, in 2017, he was awarded the MVP. In 2018 and 2019 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he did the same thing, but since Paul George and Carmelo Anthony were on the team, we just got used to seeing him rack up the triple-doubles and forgot how historic it truly was.

Westbrook has amassed nine All-Star appearances, two All-Star Game MVP Awards, nine All-NBA appearances, an MVP, two scoring titles, and two assist titles. Look at this list of the ten greatest point guards of all time right here. This very subject was debated on First Take after Westbrook passed Robertson, and while he may not be top three or even top five, he is top ten at least, and one of the best point guards the game has ever seen. Westbrook is a much better point guard then Walt Frazier and Jason Kidd at the very least, but no one cares because of two reasons:

  1. People think he pads his stats (meaning he inflates them on purpose)
  2. He hasn’t won a championship

Not winning a championship isn’t Westbrook’s fault. The Oklahoma City Thunder were set to become a dynasty as they had Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Tyson Chandler (who they acquired in a trade, but he failed his physical and never came to the team). But, Oklahoma City made the unfortunate move of not re-signing Harden, and Durant left in free agency, leaving Westbrook to carry the team for his MVP year before Paul George came and gave him some help.

During that MVP season, Westbrook had arguably the best game of his career. Facing the Denver Nuggets, Westbrook would record his 42nd triple-double, the most in a single season (Oscar Robertson had 41). He capped off the night with 50 points and an incredible buzzer beater from nearly 35 feet.

We have made the discussion of Westbrook’s greatness a controversy at this point, which is a shame. Yes, he can’t shoot very well, misses some clutch shots here and there, and may inflate his stats a little bit. However, he will always play with heart, aggressiveness, and give you 100%. He’s one of the fastest players in the league, and one of the most athletic. If he won a championship in 2012 or 2016, we wouldn’t even be debating this subject. Westbrook is one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, and we need to stop slandering him.

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